Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday paddle, with a pleasant surprise

It was a cold and blustery day...
Easter morning dawned overcast but seemingly calm, so we set our expectations accordingly. A 20-mile paddle starting on the South Side, past two of Chicago's water intake cribs, with a stop for lunch at 12th Street Beach, and back again along the shoreline would be pleasant, a nice spring-time warm up for longer paddles to come.

The sky was overcast and the water was calm as we left the harbor.
And, in fact, the winds were a mere 10 to 12 knots--a Beaufort Force 3 to 4--and out of the north. Not enough to slow us down much, but enough to sustain waves of 2 to 3 feet that must have built the previous day, and to create scattered whitecaps. They weren't apparent until we passed the break wall outside the harbor. "Ha," we said. "This could be an interesting paddle after all!"

Not that paddling isn't always interesting, but calm water does tend to get more tedious than the bumpier varieties.

Approaching the second crib.
The trip out, cribs and all, took four hours. The last leg back took less than 90 minutes. Which goes to show that you never know what you'll find until you get on the water. We had looked at the forecasts, the radar, the clouds and the wind speed (the forecast was 5 to 10 knots), and we thought the lake would be close to flat. And to our delight, we were wrong.

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